Singing in many rhythms

Genre-agnostic bunch

Singing in many rhythms

Every genre of music, no matter how obscure, has its convoy of musicians who won’t hesitate to plaster themselves with labels. There is no dearth of such loyalists, metalhead or otherwise. But there are some who keep aside the labels for their textbooks and let their music run free.  

Akhil Kodamanchili, the musician behind ‘No Hero’, terms his project as ‘an alternative, genre-agnostic project that blends a toxic mix of spontaneity and composure, decadent with rich textures and tones over a wide range of stylistic and philosophical dynamics’. Explaining the term ‘genre-agnostic’, he says, “It’s a matter of humility as a musician, that I can’t ever practically experience every style of music enough to make a truly educated choice. Maybe someday, something will just feel right, but then again, so many things feel just as right, so it’s quite polyamorous — whether it’s metal or pop, they’re fundamentally the same 12 notes.”

This diversity makes it easier for musicians to get accustomed to different styles and cultures, and in turn, to many other aspects of life that accompany each genre. “I found myself growing increasingly comfortable with a variety of styles and cultures as I allowed myself to question music. In a similar sense, this leads to the inevitable concept of faith, fate and other such inner world conundrums,” adds Akhil.

The internet revolution plays a huge role in the lives of these ‘genre-agnostic’ musicians as they have easy access to a variety of genres and music styles now. Confining themselves to one box seems more like a task than anything else. “I went through a wave of nu-metal/metal when I was in my pre-teens but once the internet became more accessible, I just got blown away by the amount of music that’s out there, new and old. I gave up on the idea of listening to every album pretty early and started trusting in the recommendations of other more experienced listeners,” explains Akhil. This is why he describes his music as “a state of mind”. “That’s what different kinds of music does, it takes you to different places.”

 Rishii Rohra, a member of the City-based band ‘Saturn Night Sky’, says that restrictions imposed on music, by oneself or an outsider, are “undesirable” as the freedom to express in different ways is the best part of being a musician. Like many bands in the City, ‘Saturn Night Sky’ has members who come from different backgrounds. This amalgamation of one’s culture, roots and sounds helps decide the various routes a musician takes. “Our drummer comes from a jazz background while the guitars are inspired by fusions. And we try to incorporate modern rhythms and time signatures, many of which are influenced by progressive bands like ‘Tribal Tech’, ‘Planet X’ and ‘Panzerballet’,” he explains. Traces of R&B, jazz, post-rock and alternative / progressive rock can be found in their music.

The members of ‘Aathma’, another Bengaluru-based band, reverse the discussion and ask, “Why would you label music?” Sidharth Bharadwaj elaborates, “We come from varied backgrounds. The band is a melting pot of not just cultures, but genres as well! The fact that we’re passionate about different kinds of music, is one that  exemplifies itself in the jam room, and later, on stage.”

With these evolving sounds, there is also a discernable change in the taste of the audience. “We see a lot of people interested in fresh sounds. It’s true that some prefer to stick to genres that they are used to. We can’t complain though, we’ve met enough curious minds to keep us going!” says Rishii.

While there are listeners who are conservation about a particular genre, Suraj Mani, of ‘Suraj Mani and Tattva Trip’, a project that combines poetry with sounds, says that life is all about variety and spontaneity. “An underappreciated fact is that so few people strive to appropriate to the moment because they define themselves too rigidly. Sometimes, allowing the moment to become a spontaneous trigger for a particular song and vice versa is great. When that happens you create magic on stage and magic is never mind-numbingly predictable.”

But whatever said and done, it does take a while for listeners to get used to all the different sounds that come out from one musician or band. This is why the artistes tend to help ease the transition, as Suraj explains, “I tend to create context for the songs that we perform by telling the audience what they are about and why I wrote them or what they mean to me. That immediately sets the audience up for a much more intense and personal connect to every song. ‘Tattva’ in Sanskrit means ‘the essence of things’, so we are literally tripping on ‘tattva’ by seeing different situations from different angles. People engage with the situation vicariously, thereby opening up little journeys which grow even after the show is over.”

Akhil, on the other hand, says that it isn’t very difficult to get people to listen. “Getting people to listen to you is a completely different ball game in today’s day and age of marketing. You can record a trash can with auto-tune and market it well enough to make money!”

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